England Women head coach Simon Middleton has announced his 33-player squad for the Six Nations which gets underway on Saturday 4 February.
In addition, it has today been confirmed that Sky Sports will broadcast all five of England Women’s 2017 Six Nations fixtures.
This is the first time all of England Women’s Six Nations games will be broadcast on television. The Red Roses will host three games at home, kicking off against 2016 champions France at Twickenham at 7.35pm, after the conclusion of the men’s game.
There are four new names added to the Old Mutual Wealth Series squad from the autumn, with Bianca Blackburn (Worcester Valkyries), Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) and Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls) coming into the England set up.
Claire Allan (Saracens), Emily Braund (Lichfield) and Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) are notable absentees through injury, while Emma Croker announced her retirement from international rugby at the end of last year.
Darlington Mowden Park Sharks second-row forward Tamara Taylor will be looking to gain her 100thinternational appearance, entering the tournament just two short of the landmark. Amber Reed (Bristol) and Sarah McKenna (Saracens) are also named after time out through injury.
In addition to the opening game against France at Twickenham, England play twice at the Twickenham Stoop; against Italy on Saturday 25 February, KO 1pm and Scotland on Saturday 11 March, getting under way at 1pm.
They travel to Cardiff Arms Park on 11 February to take on Wales (KO 11.30am), finishing their campaign in Dublin against Ireland, hosts of the 2017 Women’s World Cup, on Friday 17 March, KO 8pm.
Middleton said: “This is a huge year and we now have a squad training full time. Our preparation is based around a world-class programme and the Six Nations forms a key milestone ahead of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August.
“There is strength and depth in this squad and, while we will be taking one week at a time and working to build through the tournament, our ambition is to win the Six Nations trophy.”
Both England v France and Ireland v England will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Mix, launched in August last year, and available free to all Sky TV customers.
Of the broadcast announcement, Ian Ritchie, RFU Chief Executive, said: “This commitment from Sky Sports reflects what an exciting time it is for women’s rugby and the ongoing growth of the game. This is an excellent opportunity for any fans unable to attend games to get behind the Red Roses as they build towards the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland later this year.”
Gus Williamson, Head of Rugby for Sky Sports, said: “This is great news for Sky Sports viewers and another example of our strong partnership with the RFU across all levels. This deal will give our viewers more action from the Women’s Six Nations than ever before, which adds to a thrilling year of women’s rugby on Sky Sports.”
Entry to England v France at Twickenham is free following the conclusion of the men’s game while tickets for England’s two games at the Twickenham Stoop are now available here.
In addition to the women’s matches, all three of England U20 home Six Nations fixtures will also be shown live on Sky Sports.
Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Sarah Bern (Bristol)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Cleall (Bristol)
Amy Cokayne (Lichfield)
Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls) *suspended from 10 January to 27 February
Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries)
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)
Sarah Hunter (Bristol)
Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries)
Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Justine Lucas (Lichfield)
Alex Matthews (Richmond)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Bianca Blackburn (Worcester Valkyries)
Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Megan Jones (Bristol)
La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls)
Amber Reed (Bristol)
Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Emily Scott (Saracens)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries)
Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
Kay Wilson (Richmond)
Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol)
England Women Six Nations fixtures:
England v France
Saturday 4 February, KO 7.35pm, live on Sky Sports Mix
Free entry after the men’s game
Wales v England
Saturday 11 February, KO 11.30am, live on Sky Sports 3
Cardiff Arms Park
England v Italy
Saturday 25 February, KO 1pm, live on Sky Sports 2
Tickets available here
England v Scotland
Saturday 11 March, KO 1pm, coverage delayed until 8pm on Sky Sports 2
Tickets available here
Ireland v England
Friday 17 March, KO 8pm, live on Sky Sports Mix
Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
N.B. Channel information subject to change.
Report courtesy of England Rugby